Wikipedia. Mozilla Firefox. Wired. Wordpress. After thousands of major websites joined in a virtual protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act in January 2012, that legislation proceeded to go nowhere.
Now, a group of entrepreneurs and innovators is hoping for the opposite effect for another cause. They want thousands of people to join in a virtual march in support of broad immigration reform, in the hopes that the legislation will finally go somewhere. The goal: a country that's more open to innovators.
"Who will start the next Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Intel, or Apple? It very well might be a student visiting America from abroad looking to start their next venture," Brad Feld, managing director of the early stage technology venture capital firm the Foundry Group, wrote on the march's website, www.MarchforInnovation.com.
"We want them to be building it here in the United States rather than somewhere else!"
The virtual march, launched today by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's coalition the Partnership for a New American Economy, is being pushed by major technologists such as AOL founder Steve Case, Facebook Causes and Nation Builder co-founder Joe Green, and prominent Democratic campaign manager Joe Trippi. The hope is that thousands of people will take to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks in the coming months to pressure lawmakers to support broad immigration bills now being considered.
Social news site Reddit, which was instrumental in the defeat of SOPA, tweeted its support Monday morning for the march.
"A lot of people have been talking for a lot of years about high-skilled immigration reform. Now there's a recognition that those efforts, however well intentioned, have not resulted in success... So we're leveraging the Internet to do a virtual march," Steve Case tells Whispers. "It's citizen engagement but it's also providing air cover to enable people to be more comfortable taking a vote."
Case believes members of Congress who have waffled on the issue may be more decisive after being barraged with messages in support of broad immigration reform from their constituents on Twitter and Facebook.
The entrepreneurs and innovators behind the march hope for a slow build in support over the coming weeks, until the text of a broad immigration reform bill is out. When that happens, the group will use Thunderclap, a sort of online flashmob service, to send out thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts in support of the bill simultaneously.
Previously, Thunderclap has been used to help "stand up to the NRA," "pull the pork from the Pentagon," and raise awareness about Climate Week 2013.